When you first started learning a language, things were hot and heavy. You’d spend your evenings together, watch foreign-language TV shows at night and even start your day with a quick lesson. For a while, you and your target language were inseparable.
But then, the honeymoon phase ended. Your Romance language left you feeling under-romanced. You stopped feeling the same thrill at the end of a completed lesson.
Every relationship goes through rough patches, and your relationship with the language you’re learning is no different. This is no reason to call it quits, however. Here are a few tips to help you rediscover your love for your target language.
- Shake up your daily routine. Having a set routine for learning is important. Consistency is key when you want to stick to a habit. After a while, however, your routine may start feeling more like a rut. In that case, shaking it up is probably the best option. Instead of doing your lessons in the morning, shift them to the evening when you’re more awake. Or instead of doing new lessons every day, go revisit some you’ve already completed to reinforce your learning.
- Read up on the culture of the language. When you’re learning a language, sometimes you’ll forget that it’s not all about the language. Yes, grammar and vocab are important to actually speak the language, but you should also know about the greater context. Where does the language come from? Where is it spoken today? What are the cultures that use the language? Answering these questions will make learning the language all the more meaningful.
- Sing in your target language. Maybe you’re not much of a singer, but that doesn’t matter. Singing is always a fun method for working on your target language. After all, it always seems a bit easier to learn song lyrics than straightforward facts and figures. Plus, singing is a good way to practice pronunciation and rhythm.
- Look at some picture-heavy travel guides. If you’re like most Americans learning a language, you’re probably doing it so you can eventually travel. Therefore, what better way to fall in love with a language again than spending some time looking at where it could take you? Not knowing the local language on your vacation means you won’t have nearly as much fun, and it could even cost you more money. There’s nothing like envisioning yourself in Italy or France to get back on the language-learning horse.
- Learn the fun parts of the language. Not all vocabulary is created equal, so once in a while, you should dip your toes into the most exciting parts of the language you’re learning. You might look up how to authentically swear in Spanish, try some tongue-twisters, or how to pronounce all the different French cheeses. Taking a break from the day-to-day lessons to do something a bit more extraneous is a great way to spice things up.
- Think about the progress you’ve made. Perhaps you’ve reached a plateau in your learning, and you’ve become disenchanted because suddenly the language seems to have gotten a lot harder. If that describes you, now’s the time to look back on all the learning you’ve done so far. A few months ago, you didn’t know anything in a new language, and now you’re conjugating away. This is no small feat, and you should remember that. Learning languages is not easy, so reward yourself for how far you’ve come.
- Put the language on in the background. It may not seem like it, but having the language playing in the background of your life can be useful. Whether it be music, podcasts or TV shows, just having a different language in your home can help you absorb vocab and pronunciations. This will never replace active learning, but it’s a good supplement for when you’re too tired to do any more lessons.
- Start cooking in your language. If you don’t already cook, then maybe you’ll want to learn how to handle a stove in English before starting in a different language. But if you do cook, doing so in another language can be a rewarding cultural experience. There are thousands of recipes online for whatever language you’re learning, and you can practice your speaking skills by pretending you have your own non-English cooking show. And if you really don’t want to cook, you can choose another hobby and learn the terminology in your target language. Play tennis in French! Exercise in Spanish! Bonus: you’ll be improving two skills at once.
- Get other people involved. Learning a language can be pretty lonely if you’re not doing it with other people. Whether you convince a friend to start learning along with you or find a group of learners online, working on your skills with other people will keep you motivated and accountable.